Navy fires skipper of Japan-based destroyer after less than a year in command
Stars and Stripes August 21, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The skipper of a guided-missile destroyer based at the home of the U.S. 7th Fleet has been relieved less than a year after taking command, according to the Navy.
The head of 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, on Saturday removed Cmdr. Kenji Igawa from his position as commander of the USS Howard due to “loss of confidence in his ability to command,” Naval Surface Force Pacific said in a Sunday news release.
The decision was “related to performance of duties,” surface force spokesman Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson told Stars and Stripes by email Monday, without elaborating.
“Navy commanding officers are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct,” Naval Surface Force Pacific said in the news release. “They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of those standards.”
Igawa, of Monterey Park, Calif., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004 with a degree in electrical engineering and holds a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Maryland. He served as the Howard’s executive officer before taking command of the ship Dec. 1.
Thomas reassigned Igawa to a staff position with 7th Fleet, according to the release. Abrahamson did not specify what role Igawa will fill.
Capt. Edward Angelinas, the former commander of the guided-missile cruiser USS Robert Smalls, will take Igawa’s place on the Howard until a permanent replacement is assigned, according to the news release.
The Navy has not identified a permanent replacement for Angelinas, Abrahamson said.
Igawa is at least the fifth ship commander who’s been fired this year over “loss of confidence,” and at least the second commander of a ship based at Yokosuka.
In May, Thomas removed Cmdr. Angela Gonzales from command of the destroyer USS John Finn — also homeported in Yokosuka — following an investigation, although specifics were not disclosed. Igawa’s removal was not related to Gonzales’ investigation, Abrahamson said.
Cmdr. Jeffrey Applebaugh, the skipper of the guided-missile destroyer USS Stout at Norfolk, Va., was relieved on June 2 by Capt. Blair Guy, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 28, for loss of confidence. Cmdr. Alexa Jenkins of the Florida-based destroyer USS Carney and Capt. Michael Nordeen of the Virginia-based amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde were relieved in January.